Content warning: If you have ever been offended by anything, ever, this movie might not be for you.
If, like myself, you have been hit hard by the Faculty of Business and Economics over the past few weeks, it might be time to re-motivate yourself with the reason you’re studying commerce in the first place – to make the world a better place.
Just kidding – it’s all about the money.
In a word, this movie is about excess. From the over 3 hour run time, drugs, sex, swearing and the ostentatious lifestyle of Jordan Belfort (perfectly portrayed by Leonard DiCaprio in the best performance of his career) this movie dials everything up to 11. You’d expect it to get exhausting but Martin Scorsese’s focused direction and Thelma Schoonmaker’s tight editing keeps you enthralled, making it easy to consider watching 5 hours of these terrible, awful people doing terrible, awful things.
Although the film’s unrelenting, breathless and rapid pace does a lot to help keep this descent into depravity entertaining, it really is something about human nature that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. This film holds up a mirror to the audience and asks if they like what they see – greed, consumerism and materialism at its absolute extreme. And the answer, largely, is yes.
It’s easy to watch these hilarious yet ultimately mediocre men in over-priced suits doing the stupidest shit with your money and see only the possibility of yourself living their lifestyles, see the opportunity to succeed. This is because we are always much more likely to view ourselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” rather than the “exploited proletariat” (Steinbeck).
However, the reality is, you’re probably more likely to be hit by lightning whilst holding a winning lottery ticket in your hand than to have a wife that looks like Margot Robbie and make the kind of money Jordan Belfort does. If you ever do though, at least you can be comforted by the fact that you’re unlikely to face any real consequences for money related crimes, so that’s a plus.
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ isn’t really an amoral film, however, despite the copious amounts of cocaine and strippers. It’s more of a warning about the dangers of addiction – whether that be to drugs, money or power, hubris will quickly bring you back down to earth.
But honestly, who really cares about the message in a movie like this. It’s hilarious, fast-paced, full of attractive people and makes quaaludes look awesome. If you haven’t seen it would recommend checking out – maybe just not with your grandparents.